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The Smart-Meter Racket


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Smart meter “opt-out cost” is a term that, to anyone of moderate intelligence, is an absurdity as well as an insult to customers who, by law, have no choice in being subjugated to the service-provider floating this nonsense.

1. There is no cost to maintain the services using existing equipment that analog-meter users have had for decades. Those costs have already been accounted for in the electric rates that they pay. Updated recording, accounting, and account management is not required, nor is there any new equipment required to continue using the analog meter service.

2. All costs associated with smart meters are due to smart-meter installation, not opt-out customers. This new regime has costs for:

a. The smart meters themselves.

b. The new wireless infrastructure to transmit smart meter readings to a central location.

c. The development of new software for billing and account management.

d. The development of new software for customer “smart monitoring” of their electricity usage.

e. The on-going expense of never-ending development of online security for users accounts, new wireless networks, and smart meters themselves (all of which have been shown to be vulnerable to hacking).

The smart meter opt-out fees are in essence a Mafia style extortion/protection racket sanctioned by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC). It is clear that consumers have been alerted to the dangers and ill-health effects associated with smart meters for years. Experiences and studies from Europe, Australia, and other locales in North America have shown that the utility companies regularly misstate the amount of radiation given off by the meters, the transmitters used in the meter data-collection networks, and the amount of time the meters spend transmitting data. These misstatements of quantitative measurable phenomena are not merely by a few percent but buy many orders of magnitude. The actual values often exceed the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) published safety levels for electromagnetic radiation exposure. (Reference Santa Barbara-based Sage Associates’ “Assessment of Radio frequency Microwave Radiation Emissions from Smart Meters” report at http://sagereports.com/smart-meter-rf/ for but one of many indictments of smart meter safety.)

Yet, in spite of the demonstrably dubious safety of smart meters, the CPUC has conspired with Southern California Edison (SCE) to tell households like mine who have already suffered a more than 80% cancer rate among its occupants, none of whom share a blood line, that we have to “pay or else” in order to keep additional carcinogenic factors – smart meters – out of our homes. How is this any different than paying protection to the mob so your legs don’t get broken just for the “privilege” of living in a mobbed-up neighborhood?

For years there have existed systems that homeowners could install themselves to monitor their energy usage in real-time, and even maintain their data online, if they so chose, using existing networks with no increase in EMR exposure. But the user, not her next door neighbor who was not “benefiting” from this hardware, software, and service upgrade, was the one who paid for it. Such a “free market” model should apply here. If a user wants to “opt-in” to the new hardware, software, services etc. of a smart meter, then that opting-in user should bear the cost – not we who want no change to our service as it has existed for decades! And certainly, we should not be forced to accept or pay a penalty for an “upgrade” in service that has not been proven safe due to a waiver of environmental, health, and security-study analysis the CPUC granted when bending over backward to do SCE’s bidding in this matter.

The fact that the CPUC approved Smart Meter installation without safety and security studies lead many to believe that the CPUC is no longer functioning as a guardian of citizens subjected to state-mandated monopolies for area utility services. When the CPUC then mandated to push the costs of upgrading onto those who clearly did not want it, and who would not in a free market model choose to upgrade, it was further proof that the CPUC is a utility-company advocate and consumer adversary. Even considering a further near 300% increase in “opt-out cost” recovery fees speaks to this perversion of the CPUC’s consumer-protection responsibility.

The fact that the CPUC, regardless of the amount and strength of consumer objection, will likely grant this increased level of punitive extortion against those who simply want to protect their own health is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the CPUC is a utility advocate rather than a consumer protection regulatory agency, and one more example of “the best government corporate money can buy.”

Billy Collins & Aimee Mann

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